Blue Jays stumble after Liriano's early exit

Blue Jays stumble after Liriano's early exit

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer missed out on pitching in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard earlier this week, but he continues to pitch like an All-Star. His eight innings of two-hit ball lifted the Tigers to an 11-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday at Comerica Park.

Hours after Tigers players and coaches held a team meeting to discuss their struggles, Fulmer (10-6) did his part to end them, holding the Blue Jays to singles from Kendrys Morales in the second inning and Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth, along with a Jose Bautista leadoff walk in the fourth. Bautista came around to score on a wild pitch and back-to-back groundouts, but Fulmer retired Toronto's next 13 batters before Tulowitzki's infield single.

"Today was a good one for me," Fulmer said. "Honestly, I kind of needed it, just to be able to throw the ball and get ground balls and popups and miss barrels. The defense played great and made every play for me."

J.D. Martinez's two-run single

Unlike past Fulmer gems spoiled by lack of run support, the Tigers built a comfortable lead for Fulmer early. Nicholas Castellanos' first-inning solo homer put Detroit up for good before a three-run third -- fueled by three consecutive walks from Francisco Liriano (5-5), who left in that inning with neck tightness -- padded the lead. J.D. Martinez added a three-run homer off Aaron Loup in the eighth as part of a five-RBI performance.

Fulmer discusses his performance

"You could tell [the neck tightness] started to affect him," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Liriano. "We've seen bouts of wildness occasionally, but then he just really lost it. Hopefully it's just one of those things, [like] he slept wrong or something."

Tigers sluggers show pop post-break

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Castellanos crushes one: Home plate was covered in shadows despite a sunny sky for the 6:10 p.m. ET start, making things tough on hitters early. Castellanos didn't seem to mind, sending a Liriano fastball out to right field for his 11th home run of the season, and his fifth to the opposite field.

Castellanos' opposite-field jack

"I was able to put a good swing on a fastball," Castellanos said.

Martinez mashes: After Liriano left with the bases loaded, a 2-0 count and nobody out, the Tigers capitalized when Martinez lined reliever Mike Bolsinger's offering to left for a two-run single. Martinez put the game away in the eighth with his 15th home run of the season.

Martinez's three-run big fly

QUOTABLE
"There's no question he's been our best pitcher this year. If the ace is your best pitcher in a season, then he's been the ace." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, on Fulmer

Ausmus on Tigers' 11-1 win

"He didn't look comfortable on the mound. He looked like he was pulling off a little bit, kind of falling off toward the third-base side. And he does it every once in a while, but not as consistent as he was doing it today. I've seen him battle through some things, but he definitely looked like he wasn't 100 percent comfortable." -- Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, on Liriano

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Blue Jays were held to two hits for the first time since Sept. 14, 2016, against the Rays. It was the second two-hitter of the year for the Tigers, after Fulmer and Shane Greene combined for one against the Padres in a 1-0 loss on June 23.

CABRERA CLIMBS RBI LIST
Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer in the sixth inning gives him 1,596 RBIs, pushing him past Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and George Brett for 37th on the all-time Major League list, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Miggy's two-run big fly

Because RBIs became an official Major League statistic in 1920, Elias' tally begins at that date. Due to the uncertain nature of record keeping in the early part of the 20th century, some discrepancies may exist between the stats provided today by different historical data providers.

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada gets the nod in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, looking to bounce back from a recent slide; he has a 9.46 ERA since the beginning of June. Estrada won his only career start against the Tigers in 2015, when he pitched five innings and gave up two runs.

Tigers: Anibal Sanchez will take the mound in Sunday's series finale. The veteran right-hander has a 3.09 ERA and .195 batting average against in four starts since rejoining Detroit's rotation.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit and covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.